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How I see the role of a Tax Executives Institute member.

Editor's Note: The following article is adapted from a presentation by the author to TEI's Kansas City Chapter. Saul D. Kass is Vice President-Finance for House of Lloyd Inc. and was a charter member of the Kansas City Chapter. Mr. Kass was graduated from the University of Kansas in 1937, worked as a revenue agent for 10 years, and joined TEI in 1950. Mr. Kass, who joined House of Lloyd in 1981, is 81 years old. In 1995, the Kansas City Chapter honored Mr. Kass for his more than four decades of service to TEI.

I wish to begin by discussing why I feel that it is important for every corporation to have a tax executive. In making this statement, I am not knocking the Big 6 accounting firms or any other accounting firm for that matter.

Each of our businesses is different. This means that our tax problems are different as well. I feel strongly that only an in-house tax executive can be a watchdog for his or her corporation on how to best utilize the Internal Revenue Code. An accounting firm has many clients and as a result, can only think of them in general terms. They just do not have the time to get into the specific needs, nor do they know the needs of each of our businesses. Yes, we still need our accounting firms, but primarily in the role of adviser. As we research an income tax problem, we may need advice to cheek on what we have come up with. This is where we can take advantage of an accounting firm. Many TEI members do not have the tax reference facilities that accounting firms have. Thus, an accounting firm is in a position to do research that most of us are unable to do.

What should true TEI members be doing on behalf of their companies? First of all, they should do a lot of reading on a daily or weekly basis to keep up with what is coming out. You never know when you might get an idea from something you read.

Be active in your TEI chapter. Do not sit around and let "the other guy" do the job.

Make every effort to meet other members of your chapter at the meetings, particularly during the reception or hospitality period. Do not always sit at the same table for dinner. Mix it up. That way you get to know more people. This is how you can expand your resource list and improve your networking.

Volunteer to serve on the various committees of your chapter. Each member has skills and abilities and should be willing to share them. Each chapter needs your help. You will be surprised with what you get back in return for an effort of this type.

At your chapter meetings, do not hesitate to ask questions. And certainly do not be afraid that your question might be dumb." There is no such thing as a dumb question. By participating in meetings, you not only broaden your knowledge but you are able to impart knowledge to other members as well.

TEI furnishes each member with an Institute-wide When you have a question that pertains to your industry add there is not anyone in your chapter in that industry, use the Membership Roster to identify someone that you can call. Do not be afraid to make the call, for I am sure you will be amazed and pleased at how TEI members respond to questions from their peers around the country. I have used this technique on many occasions throughout my career and have developed many friendships as a consequence of my "cold calls" to TEI members. Most important is the knowledge that I gain from calling a fellow TEI member who is willing to share with me his knowledge. Keep in mind what I have just said: The knowledge that exists in the heads of the members of TEI is unmatched by any other organization in taxes. You should take advantage of it.

Members should make every effort to attend every meeting of their chapter. There is nothing more important to you as a, TEI member representing your corporation than attending the meetings. Do not seek refuge in the old cliche "This meeting doesn't have anything in it for me." Every meeting has something in it for each of our members. Do not close your mind to what is going on around you. I am disappointed in the attendance that we have at our meetings. These are good meetings and have good topics, and they should have 100-percent attendance.

In addition to attending the meetings of your chapter, you should attend meetings that are sponsored by the Internal Revenue Service or state and local tax authorities. Most states have advisory councils. These councils were started many years ago through the efforts of TEI and represent a valuable source of information. It is important that you go to these meetings, even if they are not in your city. For example, at a recent semi-annual meeting of the Missouri Director of Revenue's advisory council in Jefferson City - 250 miles from Kansas City - only three members of the Kansas City Chapter attended. I went to the meeting just because I never know what I may learn. Sure enough, the Director of Revenue had a handout that covered several items I would not have otherwise been aware of.

I was pleased when the Director of Revenue sat down next to me during the lunch period. I talked to the Director about a matter in which I needed to get some information, and she immediately brought the head of the department to me and asked that he take care of the situation. The department head considered the matter and said he would have information for me in 45 minutes. When our lunch ended, he took me to his department. I went over our problem and during the discussion that took place, I learned why the problem existed. I explained it to the three revenue officials and they said they understood. Two weeks later I received a letter from the department indicating that I was receiving a credit for my company of more than $5,000. This is not a lot of money, but it certainly paid for that trip and more. And I now have more contacts in my state network.

In conclusion, I hope that you have not just read this and passed over the words. If you really take this to heart, and do even more than I have suggested, then you will become a valuable asset, not only to your company, but to yourself and to your fellow TEI members.
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Copyright 1996, Gale Group. All rights reserved. Gale Group is a Thomson Corporation Company.

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Author:Kass, Saul D.
Publication:Tax Executive
Date:Mar 1, 1996
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